By Wendy Kerr

Confucius was quoted as saying “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” For many that is nirvana, to spend our work lives doing something we adore, and getting well paid for it.

Yet, I know from over a decade of coaching the leaders and their teams of global technology companies, that very few people realise this nirvana. For many work represents a means to an end, accumulating the salary for holidays, and hopefully a long retirement where they can enjoy the fruits of their labour.

More recently, I decided to follow my own passion, to mentor start up businesses in a new business called Corporate Crossovers®. For me, working with people to take the spark of an idea, and to create a fully fledged business is unbeatable. I realised that I was more interested in enabling people to leave their jobs and create their own businesses, rather than helping large corporates be more profitable. Following my passion was easy, but how do you do it from a standing start?

As you approach your work each morning, do you have a feeling of eager anticipation, or do you wish you were doing something else? When you are given the chance, does your mind turn to thinking about your hobby, do you find yourself spending lots of time researching and learning about it, and are your friends always asking your opinion and advice about this topic?

These are signs that you are passionate about ‘it’. But how could you earn money doing what you love? Have you ever wondered how you could turn your passion into a vibrant and profitable business?

Take these five steps below:

1. Determine what you can sell
You might be passionate about sailing, but that is too vague to turn into a business proposition. Dig deeper, and discover specifically what you are passionate about.

Answer these questions to help:
- in which area do I have the most knowledge and love discovering more
- when I think about the area I am passionate about, what gaps do I see that I could fulfill, or problems that exist that I could solve
- when I consider other items in the market place, what do I love the most? Is there an opportunity to create a better version?

2. Who will you be selling to?
If you are the only one passionate about it, you won’t have a business, you will have a very expensive hobby. Turning your passion into a business means that you need to have a market of eager prospects to sell to.

Ask yourself these questions to clarify who your ideal prospect is:
- who else is as passionate as I am about this area
- what are they buying now
- describe what they might be like (I know this is an estimate) where they live, what they do, how much they might earn, what interests they have. The more vivid the description of your ideal customer is, the easier it will be to sell to them.

3. What problems does your ideal prospect have?
People typically buy things to solve problems. Take a moment and get into your ideal prospect’s mind. When they are involved in your area of passion — what problems do they have?

For instance, if they are sailors, a problem might be that being concerned about their keys sinking if they fall in the water….obviously a solution exists for that now, but once it didn’t.

Think deeply about the potential problems, brainstorm a long list, as this will be key to monetising your passion.

4. How can I solve their problems
Now you know what problems and needs your ideal prospects have, create some ways to solve them. A business will only succeed if it has customers buying from it. I know this sounds obvious, but many business ideas fail because they were a nice to have, not solving a specific problem.

5. Will it make any money?
Once you have a list of solutions, start to do some back of the envelope financial estimates. How much will it cost you to produce each idea, how much could you sell it for? The amount left over will be your profit. Then multiply this by the amount you think you could sell. This will give you an estimate of how lucrative, or not the idea will be.

These are just the initial steps I recommend to take your passion and create a viable thriving business. Of course I recommend that you create a business plan, a living breathing document that articulates the idea, verifies it’s appeal with market research and details how you will acquire customers and produce it. And from this you can produce a set of financials which will give you the confidence to make a decision abut whether or not your passion should be pursued as a business opportunity, or kept for pleasure only.

Details of how to create a business plan in an easy step by step fashion are contained in my new book “My new business — a busy women’s guide to start up success.”

Wendy Kerr is author of My New Business: A busy woman’s guide to start-up success (Pearson) out this month. She can be found here and on Twitter at @wendy_kerr